Re-elected without opposition four years ago, incumbent Nancy Landry now faces a challenger for the District 31 seat in the state House of Representatives.
Evan Wright, a newcomer to politics, said it was his more than 20 years’ experience with Toastmasters International, a public speaking and leadership organization, that gave him the confidence to seek public office. Wright, a Democrat, said the skills he gained through Toastmasters will help him network with other legislators and, in turn, help the district.
Landry, a Republican, was first elected to the Legislature in a special election in 2008. If elected for a third term, she said, she’d continue to work on improving roads and infrastructure, as well as improving parents’ choice on public education.
“I want to expand educational freedom so that all parents have the right to choose the best school for their child,” said Landry, who serves on the House Education Committee.
“We also need budget reform and tax reform. I think we need to look at all of our tax exemptions and see if they still make sense from a public policy perspective. Some are old and (have) been on books so long, we don’t know why we gave tax breaks to some groups, and we don’t know if it’s still serving good public policy.”
Landry said she has no plans to introduce legislation in the 2016 session on expanding parental choice for public education, but it’s a goal of hers in the next four years.
“I would support an expansion of any kind of parental choice where the parent could choose the best school for their child,” Landry said. “Not just parents of those living in poverty, but I think everyone should have that choice and not just if you’re in a failing school, but if you don’t think the school is a good fit for your child.”
Landry is vice chair of the Acadiana delegation and also vice chair of the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee and also serves on the House Judiciary Committee. She described herself as a conservative who is anti-abortion, pro-business and supports the Second Amendment.
Wright said if he’s elected, education and supporting business growth would be his priorities.
“Lafayette is a thriving community. I want to see business continue to grow here. I want to solve some problems that we have and focus on things like better roads, better drainage,” Wright said.
He also touted his experience and knowledge of the oil industry as an asset to voters.
When asked about specific business or education initiatives, Wright said he’d focus on “areas that need more leadership.”
“I’d like to jump-start that leadership,” he said.
Wright also said he plans to meet with leaders at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. “I’m contacting some people and will talk to people at UL and see what problems they’re having and see what I can do to help them out.”
And he said he’d like to meet with legislators to devise ways to reduce “administrative red tape” at “lower education” schools to cut operational expenses. When asked for clarification, Wright said he could not provide specifics, but that educators have shared those frustrations with him. If elected, he said, he’d discuss those issues with legislators to identify potential solutions.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.